December 06, 2005


Grieving and Thriving

For the past week, I've been grieving. Yet, I am still thriving. Although it is a painful experience, it is a healing revelation to me.

You see, last week I had to put my beloved old dog down. It was a difficult and emotional decision for me. I had a wonderful chocolate lab named Trusty. He was a loyal companion for over 14 years. He lived a long and happy life. I felt more than a twinge of guilt at the end because Trusty could still work up a smile on his muzzle and wag his tail. For weeks, I kept wondering if I was making the right decision.

Trusty tried to make the choice easier for me. During the last weeks of his life, he decided he wasn't interested in food. A dog who had always been a vigorous eater decided to leave the food bowl full. He wouldn't eat unless I fed him by hand.

As the late autumn nights grew colder, Trusty also decided not to come in to the warmth of the house or his insulated doghouse. The last few times my dog was indoors, he had to be dragged in from outside. Now that it has turned quite snowy, blowing and cold, I'm glad we both made the decision to end his earthly life.

But, it was hard on me. I cried until my eyes were swollen and my head ached. I still look out the window and expect to see my cherished brown beast in the yard. It's hard to believe that I stroked his velvety-soft ears for the last time as he was given a lethal injection.

Yet, this has been a telling experience as well. It's almost been like a test of my resolve to thrive in spite of everything. Instead of avoiding, I am involved. I was with Trusty at home as he passed. I held him and stroked his fur until I could tell he was no longer with me. Instead of turning things inward, getting depressed, feeling bad about myself or dissociating, I have been present with my grief. I think Trusty would want me to be this way--continuing on and truly living, instead of zoning out and not really being here.

Trusty Dog was a great help during some of the most frightening and lonely times of my recovery. He offered his big, beastly self for protection and his warm, soft fur for petting. I could always sense Trusty's unconditional love in his amber eyes, wagging tail and warm, soft licks. I will be strong now, as he was strong for me then. I will go on...and so will Trusty. He will always live on in my heart and my memory. He'll be my beloved dog and friend forever.

Copyright 2005 by Marj McCabe. All Rights Reserved.

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